Plucked from success: Cause marketing woes

in Cause Marketing

Nancy Schwartz is the person who first made me aware of this less-than-ideal decision for a cause marketing partner.  Specifically the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® (Komen) nonprofit chose Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

I’m not criticizing KFC In fact I like their original recipe chicken.  However, I know fried foods like that can’t be eaten too often so I don’t.  But I digress.

This partnership has caused quite an uproar.  Some supporters are so upset they’ve started their own grassroots campaign to pressure Komen to sever its cause marketing partnership with KFC.  I am glad to say that no one has any gripes against KFC. 

Why are people so miffed at Komen?

As Schwartz says in her article: “At a quick glance, KFC’s Buckets for the Cure campaign (launched in early April 2010) seems harmless. For each pink bucket purchased by franchise operators, 50 cents goes to the Komen for the Cure campaign.  KFC’s goal is to make the single largest donation ever to Komen. What’s bad about supporting breast cancer research, education and advocacy?  … fried foods are known to contribute to obesity and other health problems, and obesity increases the risk of breast cancer.”

In other words, Komen’s health mission doesn’t align with fried foods. 

In my newsletter and in this blog I’ve written on how important it is to choose a company that compliments your mission whenever possible.  In my March 16th cause marketing blog post I gave this example: A nonprofit with an environmental mission might partner with a manufacturer of eco-friendly products.  

It’s true that an alliance where the corporate product or service compliments (or matches) the charity’s mission is the ideal scenario.  In reality, however, if you seek multiple partnerships there may not always be a “match.”  This is where other criteria come into play which I also discussed in my March 16th blog post.

Something else to consider . . .

Yup; a lot of folks are upset with Komen.  But let’s also remember that although not an ideal cause marketing partnership, there are a lot of everyday folks who aren’t as focused on harmonious corporate and nonprofit partnerships.  And when they wander in to a KFC restaurant every other month or so for their infrequent fried food meal, they’ll be happy to help a good cause by purchasing a pink bucket for their chicken.  Strangely enough, it just might increase their awareness of the cause.

And as a result of all this commotion it’s also possible that more businesses and corporations will hesitate to partner with charities for fear of how it might be perceived.  It’s not easy to foresee all the possible interpretations from the public.  Just another angle to think about before we turn our backs on Komen.

[Click here to read Nancy Schwartz’s article.  And here’s her Getting Attention blog post with several heated comments.]